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Tips For Making It To School On Time And Having A Smoother Day

29 Sep

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My oldest started first grade this year and my youngest Pre-K. One of the biggest challenges to every school year, is making it out of the apartment on time, without tears. But we also have a busier schedule with a late evening soccer practice, a late religion class, an afternoon of dance class, and homework. Even though we are a month into school, returning from long weekends become challenging too.  We’ve recently implemented these strategies at home to help the day go smoothly:

  • Create a check list/ schedule for the day.  I created a morning checklist and an afternoon checklist.  Included is the schedule for the day so they know what is coming next.  If they complete everything on their checklist, they get to watch a tv show or have a treat before they head to bed.
  • Plan ahead.  What days will you have play dates?  Set a specified time for homework.  We have 15 minutes of reading that we do every night.  Lay out Clothes for the night before.  Talk about what they would like for lunch the next day so you are prepped and ready to go in the morning.  All of these activities and responsibilities can be included on the check list.  Having them there has helped so my daughter doesn’t have to ask what to do next.
  • Limit TV, Computer/IPad time, especially in the mornings.  It’s always more stressful in the AM to get out in time when the girls have a TV show on.  They never want to leave.  After we get shoes on, I have my girls look at a book or work on words/ letter sounds we created on the back of our door while they wait.  We use the Leap Frog Magnetic Fridge Phonics Set and Sylvan Spelling Flash Cards.  You can also make your own cards adding the words of the week for Friday Spelling Quizzes.

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  • The Bored Jar Trying to coordinate play dates is challenging with all the after-school commitments.  Often, my girls come home and entertain each other.  I’ve received lots of tugs on my arm followed with the famous words “I’m Bored”.   To create a The Bored Jar, use any jar, bowl, or vase.  Fill it with strips that contain various activities or chores.  I used the wonderful printable suggestions from imom. Activities include do a chore for mom  ( I created a separate list of chores for them to choose from), play a board game with someone, help make dinner, call a grandparent, and more.  We modified and added a few of our own: build a tent, dress-up and act out a scene, ask mom to set up uKloo, make a book, do a chore for Dad and try on clothes for the upcoming season to see what still fits and what needs to get donated.  The Bored Jar is a fun way to keep kids busy and not constantly asking what’s next, especially when the weather gets colder and you are stuck inside.
Printouts from imom.

Printout from imom.com

  • Stick To Your Bed Time.  I have a hard time with this because of the evening activities. We started eating dinner before her activities so when she comes home we can have a snack, take a bath and hit the bed.  When my girls are tired in the morning, it’s never easy to get out the door.

 

 

What do you find helpful to get your children out the door on time?

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own unless stated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Keep Your Child’s Art Forever

25 Sep
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Image from Keepy

My daughter loves ART.   Last year, she came home from school with so many art projects I had no idea what to do with.  I started folders, bins, and stacking them away in the closet because anytime I wanted to toss something out my daughter would notice.  She also has a great memory, and occasionally asks for projects and when I couldn’t “find” them she gets upset.  I also have a hard time parting with them because she is very creative and puts so much effort into her projects.  However, apartment living isn’t conducive for storing stacks of artwork.   At one point we were so inundated  with her artwork, she decided to sell it to her uncles so it wouldn’t get thrown out.  I told her we need to keep her very best pieces and we would have to give away the rest.

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Last week, I attended a back-to-school breakfast in her classroom.  Just a side-note, she has been in school 2 1/2 weeks and the artwork is already starting to pile up on top of the stack from last year.  She was showing me around her classroom and took me to her cubby.  There was a picture with a sentence about what she hopes to do in school this year (see below).

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When I saw the picture and that she hoped to DRAW in school, I was so thankful I learned about Keepy at the Fashion Forward Conference a few days prior.  Keepy is an App that creates a gallery to organize, enhance, share, admire and save your child’s schoolwork, art and mementos.  It’s easy to use, just download the App to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and start the set-up process.  You can sign-up or log-in through Facebook.  Once you log in you can set-up galleries with a photo for all of your children.    Snap a shot of their artwork, enhance the image, comment and add the date then save.  The coolest feature is the ability to record a video to go with the picture you are saving.  In addition, loved ones can use the keepy-cam to comment on the work or memento. Keepies can also be shared on Facebook, Twitter and on the Keepy Gallery.  I no longer have to throw out artwork, I can keep them by taking pictures and saving them to Keepy.

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In addition to saving your child’s work, you can turn your favorite pieces into a case for your iPhone case with endless possibilities, once in image format, on Zazzle.  These keepsakes would make fabulous gifts for friends and family on birthdays or for the Holidays!

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Keepy is free at the iTunes App Store and includes an option to increase storage with an in-app purchase. It will be available on Google Play in the fall 2013. The platform provides the space and the storage on the Keepy cloud forever.   To learn more about Keepy visit Keepy.me, watch the YouTube video, find on Facebook, or follow on twitter.

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from keepy.me or a press release. Images, unless noted, were taken by Tastefully Childish

 

Snack Time: Enjoy Life Decadent Bars (Review)

12 Sep
Image from Enjoy Life Foods

Image from Enjoy Life Foods

Yesterday was the first full day of school.  My daughter has lunch at 11:20 in the morning.  A little early for her, especially since school doesn’t get out until 3:05.  In addition to packing a lunch, she needs to pack a snack for the afternoon.  My daughter, has a peanut allergy and it’s hard to find easy snacks that are allergy friendly.  I have been a huge fan of Enjoy Life Products and was excited to learn more about the Decadent Bars.  The bars are the perfect size snack to add as a special treat in your child’s lunch box or for an afternoon snack.  Enjoy Life Decadent bars are gluten-free, free from the top eight allergens, verified by the Non-GMO project and available in four flavors (below).  Each bar is topped with a white or dark drizzle (depending on the flavor)-YUM.

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Cherry Cobbler:

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Chocolate Sunbutter:

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Cinnamon Bun:

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S’Mores:

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Of the four flavors, S’Mores was the hit.  My daughter ate them all before I could snap a picture of the bar itself.  They satisfy her sweet tooth and are filling to hold her over until the end of the day!  She requested more for her school snack! Off to Whole Foods we will go for another box!  Find Enjoy LIfe Decadent Bars near you!

 

To learn more visit Enjoy Life or follow on Facebook and Twitter!

Disclaimer:  I received samples of all flavors for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.  Any information in italics came from Enjoy Life.

Back-to-School with Justin Boots for Kids

27 Aug
Image from Justin Boots

Image from Justin Boots

When I shop for footwear for back-to-school, I like to buy things that are versatile and can be worn with most of their outfits. I love cowgirl boots because they can be worn with jeans (tucked in or out), skirts, shorts or dresses. My oldest daughter loves cowgirl boots.  She received her first pair when she was two and insisted on wearing them everyday, even when she outgrew them.   When she received a pair of Justin Boots, she was ecstatic and decided she was going to wear them for the first day of Kindergarten. More after image…

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A few ways my oldest likes to wear her boots! She was a little disappointed to learn her little sister has caught up and wears the same size!

Justin Boots for Kids come in many gorgeous styles for both boys and girls.  I chose the Justin® Kids Tan Puma Snip Toe Western Boots (pictured above) for my oldest daughter because the design is subtle, beautiful, and they can go with just about everything.   The Puma Snip Toe Western Boots are made of soft leather and feature a patented J-Flex Flexible Comfort System® helps make Justin Boots the most comfortable boots you’ll ever own!   My daughter is very sensitive to touch and is very particular about how things fit.  She was able to walk in her boots with ease and told me they were very comfortable for her when she walked.  She absolutely LOVES the cowgirl heel. I could not stop smiling when she jumped up and down saying “Mom, wow, I can’t believe I have heels on”.  The pull strap makes the boots easy to put on but my daughter had a little difficulty taking them off.  Both of my girls measure around an 11 and the size 11 boot fit them great.  I love the boots so much I am going to order another style, Justin®Children’s Bay Westerner w/ Saddle Vamp in Pink Cowhide (pictured below), for my youngest!

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 Justin® Kids Tan Puma Snip Toe Western Boots are available for purchase on Cavenders.com.  

Justin Bootsthe standard of the west since 1879, also has styles for Men and Women. To learn more check out these links: Justin Boots, Justin Boot Technology, Fit Guide , Boot Making, Leather Care, How to Wear Cowgirl Boots, and the California Prop 65 Warning.

Follow Justin Boots on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I received Justin Boots for the purpose of this review.  This did not alter my opinion.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from the Justin Website.

Back-to-School: Food Storage

19 Aug

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Along with packing a lunch comes how will you store the food in the lunch bag.  Whether you are making the most of the last weeks of summer with picnics in the park or preparing for the upcoming school year, below are food storage containers must-haves:

Thermos Insulated Containers:

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The four images of the containers came from Thermos.

I remember using Thermos lunch boxes and containers as a child.  In fact, I just found my Campbell’s soup container from my childhood. I loved the container because when I saw it, It meant that I had something other than the usual sandwich.  As I prepare to pack a lunch for my daughter everyday, I have thought about what to pack so she won’t get tired of eating the same lunch everyday.  Ideas are Mac & Cheese, Meatballs, Soup, pasta or leftovers from the night before.   Thermos insulated containers will keep food warm (or cold) until lunch time with their double wall vacuum insulation for maximum temperature retention.  We will be heading back to school with these great containers; the Food Jar with Microwavable Container (4 hours hot, 6 hours cold), the Flip Top Food Jar (5 hours hot, 7 hours cold), and the Stainless King Food Jar with Spoon (7 hours hot, 9 hours cold).  We gave our Thermos containers a try with a picnic in the park and now my daughter is VERY excited for the possibilities of what she can bring for her school lunch.  If your child likes designs check out Thermos FUNtainers and Foogo containers.  Make sure to check out the beautiful designs from Dwell Studio for Thermos!  Easy to hand wash!

Zak Designs ChillPak Sandwich and Snack Containers:

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Top two images from Zak designs

We use these awesome containers all the time.  Perfect for keeping on-the-go lunches cool with the ice pack you place on top of your food, inside the container. Not only is the ChillPak Sandwich container great for keeping sandwiches cool, it is also the perfect size for two slices of watermelon, my daughters favorite fruit!  The snack container is the perfect size for an individual pack of hummus and pita chips, carrots, or cucumber.  I was also able to fit 1/2 a sandwich, hummus, cucumber and tomato into the sandwich container.   My girls love Zak Designs because they can choose from some of their favorite characters like Disney princesses to make meal time fun.  Hand wash these containers and ice packs.

Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack and Everything Bag:

Three images on the left from Itzy Ritzy.

Three images on the left from Itzy Ritzy.

I recently learned about Itzy Ritzy.  I love this bag because it comes in so many beautiful designs for girls and cool designs for boys.  The Itzy Ritzy snack bag comes in two sizes and is machine washable, making it easy to reuse for snacks like crackers, grapes, or add a sweet treat with a little note in you child’s lunch.  The bags have a 100% cotton exterior and waterproof lining interior to keep a special message from getting wet.  They also refer to them as an everything bag because you can use it for iPods and headphones when you head to the beach.  I can also fit my daughters epi-pen, training device and instructions to keep it all together in her backpack or to carry to lunch.  Enter to win an Itzy Ritzy snack bag and Balance Bar mini energy bars here.

Smart Planet Collapsible Eco Lunch Box 

Image from amazon

Image from amazon

I have not tried this container yet but I did purchase one and it’s on the way.  I love that it collapses and won’t take up too much room in the cabinet.  The container has 3 compartments for food and includes a “spork” untensil.  Can’t wait to try this container out this fall!

Disclaimer:  I received samples from Zak Designs for a past post, a sample from Itzy Rizty and a sample from Thermos.  This did not alter my opinions about the product.  Any information in italics came from the brands website.

Balance Bar mini energy bars (Review & GIVEAWAY)

18 Aug

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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and my girls head back to school in a few weeks! Heading back-to-school means packing lunches and snacks for dance, soccer practice, play-dates and “snack week” responsibilities. I have tried to think of filling snacks that they will enjoy. I recently tried the Balance Bar mini energy bars which contain 7 grams of protein, 100 calories and 23 vitamins and minerals. The bars are soft, flavorful, satisfying, filling and easy to eat. They are the perfect size for kids or even parents who need a little something to hold them over while on-the-go. A bite of the cookie dough reminded me of the days I used to sneak bites of raw cookie dough while baking with my mom..yumm. The double chocolate is just as delicious for all the chocolate lovers out there. Unfortunately my oldest didn’t try them because they are produced on equipment that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, egg, wheat and sesame but my youngest is so excited to pack them in her Itzy Ritzy snack bag (to be featured in an upcoming food storage post).

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Image by tastefully childish

Are you ready for back-to-school? Balance Bar® in partnership with the Macaroni Kid parent network surveyed more than 5,000 parents of schoolaged children and found that 61% of parents thought that Fall (aka Back to School) is the busiest time of year for their families.

What else did they find from this survey? Check it out:

• 77% of parents said they have 3 or more activities/events per week on average once school starts.

• 80% of respondents said once school starts, they will be planning more meals and attending more sporting events for their kids.

• And 57% of parents said they try to have one meal together each day as a family to help balance their schedules.

• 79% of parents reported that they pack their kids’ school lunches.

To help parents, Macaroni Kid provided some tips on how to better prepare for a school day and balance everyone’s schedules:

• Do a run through. Are your kids starting a new school or a new routine? Do a run through. Wake up “school time,” brush teeth, get dressed, pack lunch, have a schoolappropriate breakfast and maybe even drive or walk to school. Then, take those packed lunches and head to the park for a final summer break picnic.

• Plan the menus. Give your kids several options in each category and let them weigh in on what they’d like to find in their lunch boxes… you won’t have to guess each morning and they are far more likely to eat it if they’ve had a hand in selecting it. We love Balance Bar® minis to pack along for snacks!

• Clean your closets! Nothing gets you and the kids ready for smooth mornings like purged, well-organized closets.

• Start a good sleep routine early. Kids love to stay up late in the summer time (and who can blame them) but it makes for tougher mornings if kids are used to going to bed later and sleeping in past “school time” wake up.

• Set goals with your children for the upcoming school year. Whether it’s academics, sports, or extracurricular activities it’s great to help kids get motivated for success in the new school year.

Interested in hearing more tips on how to balance your schedule come this Fall? Join Balance Bar® Tuesday, August 20 at 2:00 PM EST/11:00 AM PST for a live, one-hour Twitter chat.

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For more information visit www.Balance.com, Balance Bar on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BalanceBar), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BalanceBar)

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky winner will win a box of Balance Bar mini energy bars and an Itzy Ritzy snack bag. Click the link to ENTER! The giveaway begins 8/18/ 2013 and will end at 11:59 pm on 8/26/2013.

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Itzy Ritzy snack bags are machine washable and waterproof. Ideal for holding crackers and Balance Bar mini energy bars. Top right image by tastefully childish

 

Disclaimer: I received samples of Balance Bar mini energy bars and an Itzy Ritzy for the purpose of this review. All images, unless noted, and information in italics came from 360 PR.

Back-to-School: Our Favorite Backpacks & Bags

13 Aug

When I was a child, I always got excited for back-to-school shopping. One of my favorite shopping trips was looking for my backpack. Now I get to enjoy looking for backpacks with my two girls. My youngest is in pre-school and my oldest starting kindergarten. Some of our favorites found while shopping:

For the aspiring artist: My oldest could color and draw all day long. She fell in love with ALEX Craft Color a (Messanger) Bag she found at Boomerang Toys and requested it as her school bag for Kindergarten.

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Image from Amazon

Make it Personal: Let your child pick his/her favorite color and design from Personal Creations and then add their name. A personalized backpack to start the year off right.

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Image from Personal Creations

Keep It Simple: I popped into American apparel the other day and fell in love with this color-blocked backpack. Simple, bright, and fun.

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Image from American Apparel

A Walk on The Wild SideJanSport was always my must-have backpack growing up so I had my girls look online with me.  The  Zebra print was a favorite for both girls on the Super FX bag.

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Image from JanSport

For the little one: Beatrix NY has been a favorite for both of my girls. My oldest picked the owl for her first back pack when she started preschool. Last year my youngest chose the ice cream cone and loves it so much she decided she didn’t want a new one so will be using it again for the upcoming school year.  Love all the “creatures of the forest” Beatrix NY has. (Read my past post)

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Image from Beatrix NY

Roll with It:  My oldest has had her eyes on the Pottery Barn Rolling Backpack for a while now.  Last year, getting her to carry her backpack was impossible because she complained “it was too heavy”.  She watched older kids roll their backpack by and immediately decided she might need a rolling backpack when she is a little older and needs to carry more for school.

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Image from Pottery Barn Kids

This year my girls will be heading off to school with these bags pictured below, but will be keeping the others in mind for the future!

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Coloring her backpack.

Coloring her “ALEX color a bag” to get ready for Back-to-School!

Have you purchased your backpack yet?  How often do you get a new one for your child?  What do you look for in a bag?

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Back-to-School: Packing Lunch

13 Aug

Kindergarten is full day which means my daughter will need to bring lunch. She has already instructed me that she will need to bring lunch until she learns how to go through the lunch line. I assume she heard that from her Pre-K teacher or overheard me one evening talking to my husband. I plan to pack her lunch most days but regardless she has been asking when she will get her new lunchbox. I heard lunch is anytime between 11 and 1 so making sure the lunchbox is insulated is key because it may sit in the classroom for hours before being eaten. I have been online looking with her at different lunch boxes she may like and will keep her food from spoiling if she happens to have a later lunch time. Here is what I’ve found:

Pack It Cool: This cooler/ lunch bag folds up and can be put in the freezer, like a freezer pack. Unfold it and pack it with your lunch. It will keep food cold for up to 10 hours.

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Image from Pack It

Pottery Barn Planet Box: I think I want this for myself :). I love the super cute design. I have never used planet box but have heard wonderful things. My daughter loves “lunchable” type meals and keeping food separate. This looks ideal for making your own “lunchable” for those who like to snack or have their food separate. It has a spot for an ice pack. The only downfall is that it’s pretty expensive.

Image from Pottery Barn

Image from Pottery Barn

Allermates “I Have Allergies” Lunch Box: A great lunch box for those with food allergies. The AllerMates lunch box will help remind teachers and cafeteria aides that your child has a food allergy. It comes with a card and Allermates cards to personalize to your child’s allergy.

Image from Allermates

Image from Allermates

Sugarbooger by O.R.E Lunch Bags: Every time I pass these at Whole Foods I have to stop and look. The designs for girls are beautiful.

Image from ORE

Image from ORE

BuiltNY Expandable Rolltop Lunch Bag from Target: Love that it can expand for the days that you need to pack a large lunch and extra snacks.

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Image from Target

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I received a sample from PackIt to review.